The Commission Against Corruption (CCAC) has stated that there is strong evidence to show that the land plot at Ilha Verde Hill, which formed the core of a corruption probe disclosed on Monday, belongs to the Macau Diocese. The statement was made during a press conference hosted by the CCAC to clear up several matters concerning the case.
“No legal or official document was found to prove that there had been, in the previous two centuries or so, any lawsuit or conflict related to the ownership of the Ilha Verde Hill land plot,” explained Lam Chi Long, deputy commissioner and director of the Ombudsman Bureau of the CCAC.
“Some documents, however, have shown that the Portuguese administration in Macau had rented the Hill for military purposes for an extensive period of time. Also documented was the agreement that the Portuguese administration in Macau signed with the Macau Diocese about the ownership of the hill.”
“As such, the CCAC found it groundless to overrule the ownership registration of the hill,” he said.
On Monday, the CCAC disclosed the result of its investigation into the land plot at Ilha Verde Hill, which according to the property registration and cadastral records, consists of the hill itself and the adjacent areas.
During the course of the investigation, the CCAC uncovered a pattern of public department mismanagement.
It found that, when it came to the conservation and planning of the land parcel, the Land, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) and Cultural Affairs Bureau (IC) had failed to adhere to regulations outlined in the Urban Planning Law and the Cultural Heritage Protection Law.
However, after the initial release of the report, the DSSOPT has been slow to respond, according to the CCAC. It has raised concerns within the anti-graft body that its suggestions are being taken as mere recommendations, and may be ignored by the entities that were investigated.
Commissioner André Cheong admitted that the text of the report amounts to little more than suggestions. It does however, provide a legal perspective to government bureaus in the course of their work.
If serious breach was found, there would be mechanism to deal with the matter, added Cheong. “Because the CCAC directly reports to the Chief Executive, it can make suggestions to the Chief Executive, who can turn these suggestions into orders,” he said.
The CCAC investigation revealed that the administration had not put sufficient effort into conserving the hill and landscape, which has been deemed to hold cultural heritage value under the Cultural Heritage Protection Law of 2013.
In December 2017, based on the opinions provided by the IC, the DSSOPT revised some of the contents of the urbanization plan, which expanded the green conservation zone to the entire hill, shrank the areas in which building is permitted and lowered the permitted maximum building height in some of the areas.
Meanwhile, the anti-corruption agency accused the IC of being complacent in its inspection works of the land parcel, saying that in a recent case, the bureau should have urged the mandatory inspection with the respective costs borne by the owner of the property.
The entire investigation had been triggered by complaints submitted by various companies and associations in Macau. Staff reporter